Parenting Tips for When Your Angry Child Overreacts

If you’re finding that one of your children is:

  • exploding,
  • thumping a sibling,
  • hitting you,
  • shouting,
  • having meltdowns at the smallest provocation, or minor setbacks,

… today’s blog gives you three positive ways forward that will help.

Watch the video, or scroll down to see more…

When these kinds of things are happening in the family, it can feel like one child is holding the whole family hostage. However it’s important to realise that it’s not that they won’t listen or they won’t follow expectations, it’s that they just can’t – yet. When you understand this, it’s easier to avoid ‘missing the point’ when trying to resolve the situation.

Two ways you can ‘miss the point’:

  1. Firstly, with methods like rewards and punishments, “thinking time” and timeout.

These approaches don’t really work. Yes, they may work a little in the short term but in the long term they don’t, because thinking time, punishments and timeout don’t actually help children deal with their intense emotions – which are the reason for the behaviour.

And in fact these methods skew your relationship with your children and your relationship with your child is your fastest and most fulfilling route to a happy family.

2. Secondly, when you express negative reactions to their outbursts.

This only adds fuel to the fire, because, when your child meets a typical setback, they’ll already be thinking about how you’re going to react to their outburst. They learn to expect that negative reaction.

All of that can get bundled and whirled into one in a confusing way, which naturally makes the situation worse. That’s when you get kids whose anger escalates very fast.

So how can you deal with your child’s big feelings without adding to them, and really help your child, showing them how to process their emotions in a more healthy way?

#1 – Express Understanding

The first step is to express understanding for whatever’s going on for them. Get curious – get really interested in how this whole situation might look to them, even if it seems really minor and trivial to your eyes, because if they’re having a reaction like that, it’s not trivial to them.

When we begin understanding, the whole situation changes.

I’ll give you an example. I’m thinking of a dad who was enjoying playing with one of his children and getting on really well.

After half an hour this Dad momentarily turned away to talk to his other child. The first child went ballistic. This dad just didn’t understand why this happened.

He was doing ‘the right thing’ spending time with his child, and even so, the child wasn’t able to cope with this minor setback.

I pointed out that when we turn away, the person we’ve been engaging with can feel a bit abandoned. It’s like when you’re out with a friend in a cafe for example, and their phone goes. They’re off, talking to another friend and you just feel a bit left out.

As adults, of course we can cope – no big deal. But for a child, it can feel like a big deal when they’re beloved parent turns away. We have to imagine that we are like gods to them.

What I suggested to this dad in another similar situation was to say something like, ‘Oh, was it a shock when I turned away to talk to your sister?

When we express understanding in this way, the situation can change entirely because your child feels seen – instead of feeling disapproved of, as they might have previously.

They feel understood, which is a totally different feeling and helps them soften and relax, taking the heat out of the situation.

#2 – Create Safety

When it comes to boundaries and limits, actions speak louder than words.

If you’re at the park and your child throws a stone at another child, or perhaps pushes someone off a piece of equipment, I would just quietly and kindly – without drama, making a point or threats – just go home.  

If situations like this are happening repeatedly, don’t go there for a while. Because actions really do speak louder than words.

The main thing about setting limits is that it’s important not do it in a punitive way. There shouldn’t be even a hint of punishment. It’s all about creating safety.

The same if your child has thrown a toy – used it as a missile – you just take it and say, ‘I’m going to keep everyone safe and put it away for a while.’

With this approach, your child will get a really strong message that you care, without feeling disapproved of.

It will give them food for thought in a positive way – that “thinking time” doesn’t.

#3 – Offer an Alternative

Offer them another, safer way to express that anger.

I once worked with a woman who offered her child yoga blocks to throw out of the back door. Or it could be that you do some stamping together or some thumping of a cushion or the sofa.

It might be that you join in with the energy of it: obviously, you’re not going to join in with real anger, just some acted anger. Then, if possible, move it over into humour and have a laugh together.

Ride on the emotion, and as you ride on it, help your child transform it into something lighter. The message here is that it’s okay to be angry – and you’re not just saying it’s okay to be angry, but you’re giving them a channel for that anger that is safe and legitimate.

Which of three above steps i could you use this week to help your child with an ager outburst?

If this leaves you still feeling perplexed as to why your child’s reactions are so strong (like the dad I mentioned earlier) let’s have a conversation.

Because I have a superpower, which is that if you tell me the situations that are coming up with your child, I can help you understand why that’s coming up for your child and why they’re expressing it in that way.

I’ll help you understand their point of view, what they’re feeling, what’s going on in their mind and heart.

These calls are totally free.

I invite you to click on one of the pink links to book one for yourself . I open up a few of these calls every month and you can choose a time that suits you.

For 45 minutes, via a video call, we’ll talk everything through, and I’ll be able to lift the veil for you on what’s happening for your child.

Many parents find that even after a conversation like this, things change. It’s as if the clouds part – their children settle down and they feel better. They feel they have more understanding for their children.

If you would like a call like this click here to get yourself booked in. I’d love to speak to you.

Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

parenting-3d-cover_500

The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.

By signing up you're agreeing to receive the guide, a few emails to help you get started and my irregular newsletter, with useful articles and resources, news of free parenting trainings and special offers on my mentoring services. You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.

Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

parenting-3d-cover_500

The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.

By signing up you're agreeing to receive the guide, a few emails to help you get started and my irregular newsletter, with useful articles and resources, news of free parenting trainings and special offers on my mentoring services. You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.